Sheffield Wednesday 1 Aston Villa 3 – Steven Fletcher misses a crucial second half penalty as Steve Bruce suffers his first defeat as Owls boss against his former club

Strikes from Albert Adomah and Tammy Abraham deep into added on time condemned former Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce to his first defeat as Sheffield Wednesday manager.

By dom.howson1
Saturday, 6th April 2019, 1:39 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th April 2019, 6:23 pm
Sheffield Wednesday v Aston Villa
Sheffield Wednesday v Aston Villa

The Owls slipped to their first Championship defeat in 13 matches, despite taking an early lead through Gary Hooper's seventh minute opener.

But Villa hit back courtesy of a glorious 22nd minute finish by John McGinn.

Wednesday dominated the second half for long periods and Steven Fletcher, preferred to Fernando Forestieri in attack, missed a gilt-edged opportunity to put them back in front from the penalty spot in the second half. His effort from 12 yards was saved by Jed Steer.

Bruce's men were left to rue Fletcher's poor penalty and wayward finishing as Adomah and Abraham registered to hand Villa a sixth straight victory.

Defeat leaves Wednesday's play-off hopes hanging by a thread. They have slipped to 12th, six points adrift of the top-six with six matches remaining.

Villa looked lively in the early stages. Michael Hector had to be alert to cut out Anwar El Ghazi's dangerous low delivery after Dominic Iorfa failed to deal with a hopeful long ball from Kortney Hause.

El Ghazi's speedy and trickery gave Iorfa plenty to ponder as Villa continued to threaten.

But against the run of play, Wednesday broke the deadlock in the seventh minute. George Boyd beat Villa's offside trap, latching onto Hector's immaculate through ball before laying it on a plate for Hooper, who tapped in home from close range.

The visitors quickly regrouped, with influential midfielder John McGinn dragging a left foot effort wide when well-placed.

Midway through the half, Villa levelled things up. Green brilliantly kept Tyrone Mings raking pass in play near the byline and his pull back was expertly steered in by McGinn. The Scotland international also netted a wonder goal in the reverse fixture.

Although Villa enjoyed the lion-share of possession, Wednesday caused them a few problems defensively.

Hause was in the right place at the right time to clear the ball to safety following lovely build up play involving Barry Bannan, Adam Reach and Dominic Iorfa.

Bannan, playing against his former club, excelled in the centre. His energy and diverse passing range caught the eye and he nearly got on the scoresheet after a sublime piece of skill on the edge of the penalty area but his left foot curler flew agonisingly wide.

Fletcher and ex-Owls midfielder Glenn Whelan were cautioned before Iorfa was forced off with an injury and replaced by Morgan Fox.

After a cagey start to the second half, Villa had to rejig their defence after Hause limped off with a knock. Axel Tuanzebe was brought on to partner Mings at the heart of their rearguard.

Reach came within a whisker of putting Wednesday back in front, curling a left foot piledriver inches off target after a fine flick by Bannan.

The Owls were then awarded a penalty after a clumsy foul by Mings on Fletcher after the forward raced on to Bannan's fine ball over the top. Mings was yellow carded for the challenge. Fletcher picked himself up and took the resulting spot-kick but Jed Steer guessed the right way to deny the experienced forward.

Moments later, Reach flashed a great ball across the face of goal which Fletcher was unable to connect with before Boyd's drive was deflected behind for a corner as Wednesday piled on the pressure.

With 18 minutes remaining, the Owls' injury curse struck again when Bannan trudged off after suffering an injury.

Both teams pressed for a winner and Keiren Westwood produced a good save diving down low to his right to foil El Ghazi.

Bruce threw on Fernando Forestieri late on in an attempt to give Wednesday more pace and menace in the final third.

But Villa dug deep and grabbed a second, with Adomah rifling home after Westwood could only parry Jonathan Kodjia's shot.

To compounds Wednesday's woes, Abraham added a third in the fourth minute of injury time after he shrugged off the attentions of Liam Palmer.

Owls: Westwood; Iorfa (Fox 40), Lees, Hector, Palmer; Reach, Hutchinson, Bannan (Matias 73), Boyd; Fletcher, Hooper (Forestieri 84). Substitutes: Dawson, Pelupessy, Nuhiu, Winnall.

Villa: Steer; Elmohamady, Hause (Tuanzebe 53), Mings, Taylor, Whelan, McGinn, Grealish, El Ghazi (Kodjia 82), Green (Adomah 70), Abraham. Subs: Sarkic, Jedinak, Hourihane, Lansbury.

Attendance: 29,458.

Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)